Salix Integra Hakuro Nishiki

Caring for Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’

Article by David Marks
Salix are willow trees and some grow to huge heights and spread, only suitable for larger yards and parks. Salix integra is a dwarf species of willowtypically growing to between 2m / 6ft to 6m / 20ft tall. One particular varietyof Salix integra is universally accepted as one of the best (probably the best)for small to medium sized and it is Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’.

Use the checklist belowto decide if Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ is the correct plant for you and your

  • They grow to about 2.5m / 8ft tall and will reach this height about fouryears after pruning. They can easily be controlled.
  • They can be grown, and are sold as, either standard or bush shrubs.
  • In late April early May, masses of light pink leaves are produced which areextremely attractive. As the season progresses the leaves turn green. Anadditional prune in July will encourage a second flush of light pink leaves.
  • Stems of current year’s growth turn red in winter.
  • They grow full sun or partial shade, with the best leaf colours occurring infull sun.
  • Their natural habitat is often near rivers and streams. They need a moist soil which is also free-draining.
  • They grow well in acidic, neutral and alkaline soils.
  • Cold tolerant down to -12C / 10F (USDA hardiness zones 5 – 8).
  • Maintenance is mainly restricted to pruning (see here). Remove any shoots from the trunk of standard / tree types.
  • They can be grown in containers however they will need very frequent watering to keep the soil moist.
  • No specialist knowledge is required to grow them and they are rarelyaffected by pests or diseases.


Follow the steps below to ensure your Salix integra Hakuro-nishiki is planted correctly:

  • Choose a position in full or partial sun where the soil can be kept moist and free-draining.
  • Allow about 2m / 6ft for the shrub to grow. Smaller plants will growsuccessfully around the base of this shrub if required. Height at maturity is 2m/ 6ft.
  • Mid September to October are the best times to plant a Salix integra. If they are planted at other times they may initially suffer from leaf scorch ifthe weather turns hot.
  • Dig a hole twice the width of the rootball. Sprinkle in a handful of
    blood, fish and bone and work into the ground.
  • Place the plant into the hole, filling in with soil so that it is at thesame depth as was in the pot. Fill around the rootball and firm the soil down gently but firmly. Water well to settle the surrounding ground around the rootball.


A word of caution about pruning Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ before we getdown to the basic rules. Firstly, if you want to get the most from this shrub you need to distinguish between the standard (tree) form and the bush form. Although the delightfulfoliage is the same they should be treated differently.

There are two common methods of growing Salix integra Hakuro-nishiki. Thefirst (and cheapest) is the bush form, the second form is as apre-grown standard. Standards have a bare stem with only the top of theshrub producing foliage.

Bush form Salix integra 'Hakuro-nishiki'
Standard form Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’


Early spring, at the beginning of March, is the best time to prune. Assuming you plant the shrub in fall, don’t prune in the following spring, wait until the spring after that (roughly 18 months after planting) to allow it to establish a good root and branch system.

If you plant the shrub in spring, wait until next spring before giving thefirst pruning.

The first time you prune this shrub cut it back byabout a third using a pair of sharp secateurs. If you see any dead wood or stemstouching the ground, prune those out as well.

When you prune the this shrub for the second and third year, cut it back by about a half. Again, if you see any dead wood or stems touching the ground, prune those out as well.

By this stage the root system will be fully developed and the best way to prune is to cut back the entire shrub to about 60cm / 2ft high.

This sounds, and looks drastic, but have no doubt, new stems will shoot up in March and April to give the very best spring display. You will also benefit from many more of those attractive red stems in autumn and winter.

It’s also possible to give Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ a light prune in July to encourage a halo of creamy foliage. Simply trim away the end 30cm / 1ft of all stems in early July.


When growing Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ in a standardform, you will have a clear stem of 60cm / 2ft or more and the top will bestems and foliage. For the first, second and third prunings follow the samerules as for the shrub form but try to prune the stems to a globe shape.

Cut the head of the shrub back by half in a globe shape.
Check the main stem below the head and prune away completely any growth from it.Standard forms of Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki are grafted onto a quick growingwillow variety and any growth from the main stem is unwanted.


Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ dislike dry conditions, more so than the average shrub. So, watering may well berequired in dry and warm conditions.

In spring time add a 5cm / 2in layer of mulch around the base of the tree. This will help conserve moisture in thesoil and at the same time provide a small amount of nutrients. It also helps tokeep the soil slightly cooler.

At the same time add a couple of handfuls of slow release
around the tree and work it gently into the soil with a trowel.


Below we list the key strengths and weaknesses of Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’.

HARDY 4 star hardiness rating(to -12C / 10F (USDA hardiness zones 5 – 8)
SHADE No – full or partial sun only
EASY CARE 4 star flowering rating
POT / CONTAINER Yes but will require frequent watering
FLOWERING 4 star flowering ratingInsignificant flowers but stunning foliage


Date: 21 February 2021 From: Eileen
QUESTION:I have a Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki , it is well established and the top is growing well. I have recently removed shrubs and plants from around the base of this shrub and it has left this salix with a mass of dead growthat the base.

Do I just snip all of this away? If so do I do this now (February)? I am in Staffs.

Early March is the best time to prune Salix integra.

I would prune it in stages. Cut off about 25cm of the “dead” growth all round. Look at some of the pruned stems(the end where you cut them). If the wood under the bark is green or showing signs of life then leave the shrub.If the wood is brown and clearly dead have another prune. Repeat until you hit live wood.


Date: 11 August 2019 From: Diana
QUESTION:My salix integra has been broken by the wind and has no leaves or shoots at the bottom of the stem. Will anything grow back on the stalk.?

A shoot might appear but it will not be of any use. I assume the plant is a standard and if so it is almost certainly grafted. If a shoot appearsfrom below the graft it will not be a salix integra shoot. If a shoot does appear above the graft, it will grow sideways and the long straightstem form will be lost.


Date: 23 July 2019 From: Martin
QUESTION:I have heard salix integra can cause damage to septic tanks and house foundations when planted in a garden bed in front of the home.Is this true?

Salix integra are a form of willow tree and the standard ones are frequently grafted onto a form of willow stock. Willows can indeed take advantage of cracks in foundations, drains and probably septic tanks.

Without knowing the stock variety, and without any estimate of how near to the house / drain the plant will be it is impossible to answeryour question. Also the root system develops differently depending on how large you allow the shrub to grow.

To avoid the problem altogether, salix integra grow very well in large containers.


Date: 22 April 2019 From: Martin
QUESTION:I have a pair of standard integra, 5 feet tall and seemingly very healthy in large pots. One has started to completely die-back(the other is flourishing) The dead one has a large thick new stem coming directly from the bark at the base. Strangely the newgrowth looks like a regular Willow – the leaves are very narrow and long andthin – very healthy and fresh. This looks to me like a parasite -is thatpossible? It seems the new growth has taken over. Is this common – what should I do? .

Standard salix integra are almost always grafted onto a quick growing main stem. What has happened in your case is that themain stem (which could well be common willow) has sprouted and all the energy of the plant is being sapped by the spouting fromthe main stem. Hence the top part is being deprived of almost anything that might keep it healthy.

The normal way of stopping this happening is to regularly examine the main stem and prune off any sprouts from it. When thesprouts are young they can be removed with your fingers as close to the main stem as possible. Older sprouts may need a pair of secateurs.

It is difficult to know if your salix will recover after doing this, it just depends how far the situation has gone. Certainlyremove the sprouts immediately and see if it recovers. This is not a common problem, yours is the first question I havereceived about this.


Date: 13 August 2018 From: Dorothy W
QUESTION:I bought my standard Salix a few months ago and have kept it in a large planter. It is doing well but already gettingvery big (wide spread). Can I put it into a permanent site in the garden now? Is it better to wait till spring? Can I prune it now? Thank you.

I would wait until September before planting it permanently. There is likely to be more rainfall from September onwards butthe ground will still be warm. Make sure it is securely staked, this is always important with a standard but more so withone only a few months old.

As far as pruning is concerned, I would wait until early spring now to prune it.


Date: 28 July 2018 From: Margaret L
QUESTION:Is it to late to prune our standard Salix integra, which was planted in the spring?

No it’s not too late. In fact doing so in July may even encourage the shrub to produce a second flush of silver colouredleaves. But do it now so that any new stems are hardened off before winter.


Date: 27 May 2018 From: Pauline
QUESTION: My newly planted salix leaves seem to be getting frazzled at tips bythe sun. Is this serious problem?

QUESTION: When a newly planted Salix integra is subject to hot conditions, it is not unusual forthe leaf tips to frazzle a bit. Keep an eye on it and watch for any damage to the branches and woody stems. If thatoccurs then you may have a problem but otherwise the tree will almost certainly recover. The damage is unlikely to happennext year when the shrub has become more established.